Transitional shelter puts homeless veterans on path to housing

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Army missile brigade veteran Cordell Tolor reads in the resident area at the Liberation Family Services on Hull Street. The agency serves homeless veterans.
Army missile brigade veteran Cordell Tolor reads in the resident area at the Liberation Family Services on Hull Street. The agency serves homeless veterans.
Army missile brigade veteran Cordell Tolor reads in the resident area at the Liberation Family Services on Hull Street. The agency serves homeless veterans.

Cordell J. Tolor, homeless since 2014, has been touring new apartments.

It’s been a little more than a year since Tolor, 68, a Vietnam-era Army veteran, moved into the Liberation Family Services transitional shelter on Hull Street in South Richmond. That year has set him on a new course, he said.

That drawn-out timeline before looking for a new home is at odds with philosophies that favor programs that get the homeless into independent homes as quickly as possible, over transitional facilities that work to get the homeless stabilized before finding them homes. The result is that most state and federal funding flows toward rapid rehousing programs, rather than such shelters as Liberation Family Services.

For about six weeks before arriving at the Hull Street shelter, Tolor was living outside. He was a convicted felon from another state sleeping in parks around the city. He had moved to Virginia from New Jersey to start a new life, but soon found himself with no money and nowhere to stay.

He is among the 25 men, all veterans, who live in the three-story building on the corner of Hull and 12th streets that pastor Jay Patrick saved after the shelter, known for 10 years as Freedom House, closed its doors in 2013.

In two years, about 250 men have used the shelter as a steppingstone to a new home, contributing to the state’s pledge to eradicate homelessness among veterans. There is always a waiting list for the 25 available beds, Patrick said.

Tolor soon will move into his own home and plans to continue volunteering with FeedMore, and a program to help prisoners transition into civilian life. He credits his stay at Liberation with turning his life around.

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